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Jefferson Co. student searches for Google glory

By Jenni Vincent

The Journal

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Andrea Siles-Loayza has always loved the ocean, but especially now that the artwork she submitted to the sixth annual Doodle for Google competition was chosen to represent West Virginia and may ultimately be selected as the event's national winner.

Based on the theme, "My Best Day Ever," Siles-Loayza used color pencils to create her interpretation of time spent observing undersea life -- colorful images that spell Google and will be used on the search engine's website if she wins nationally.

It was up to the public to decide by voting online at www.doodle4google.com. Voting ended May 10. (See state winners there now.)

Siles-Loayza, a senior at Washington High, entitled her work "Diving in the Coral Reef" after having gone scuba diving.

"I'd have to say that marine biology is one of my most prominent interests. I just love it so much. and that's what inspired me to do this," she said, smiling as others stopped by the school cafeteria for a look at her winning entry.

"This is just like a dream come true," Siles-Loayza said.

She and her family will be in New York City for the May22 announcement of this year's national winner. The winning design will appear on the Google home page Thursday, said corporate spokesman Clive de Freitas, who visited Siles-Loayza recently at Washington High School.

"Since we are partnering this year with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, all of the 50 state winners will be featured in a showcase there," he said.

De Freitas said he is amazed by the degree of student creativity displayed during this annual competition. This year, there were entries from Hawaii to Maine, including 130,000 individual entries, he said.

Students from kindergarten to high school could submit drawings. Initially, 250 semi-finalists were later narrowed down to the top 50 entries -- a selection process performed by guest judges representing various interests including news organizations, art and music, de Freitas said. TV personality Katie Couric, gymnast Aly Raisman and musician Questlove were among them.

"We absolutely get inspired by this next generation of Google users who celebrate their passion and creativity with their artwork. It's also exciting because these young artists want to share their work, and this is a great forum for doing just that. We want the world to be able to celebrate their creativity," de Freitas said.

Washington High Principal Judy Marcus said the entire school is proud of Siles-Loayza and supports her in this competition.

"Andrea has a lot of artistic talent, and it was very, very exciting to learn that she's representing West Virginia. We're fortunate in that regard because we do have a talented student body and we display their work in the school all the time,

"Unfortunately, a lot of other people don't get to see this work, so now lots of folks can appreciate it thanks to Google. This is an amazing opportunity for national exposure."


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